Saturday, April 25, 2009
Earwigs Can Become Pesky
In spring I have trouble with earwigs devouring small transplants and damaging flowers. They get active after sundown and climb surprisingly high up into your plants in search of delicacies to feed on, including aphids. (This further supports my notion that aphids are just plant juice transmogrified, and eating aphids does not change the eater's status as an herbivore.)
Here is a European earwig, Forficula auricularia, holed up in a flower five feet up on a climbing rose on a cloudy day. They like dark and dampness and you can use that information to control the buildup of their numbers to damaging levels. Remove as much as possible places for them to hide in the garden and lay eggs such as boards, overturned pottery, clipped vegetation you didn't get around to cleaning up, etc. Then you can set traps consisting of a nice dark cozy spot (a piece of hose, a rolled up newspaper, a board, an overturned pot) in chosen spots near plants the buggies may be damaging. Check your traps each day; knock off the earwigs you find into a plastic bag or vessel of water and (gulp) destroy them. Soon the number of earwigs in the traps will diminish, indicating the population has been significantly reduced, probably below problem levels.
Reference: UC IPM pest note on earwigs.